A Blessing for Everyday Life
“‘I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.’” (John 15:11 NIV)
Happiness ebbs and flows based on our changing circumstances. A new baby or grandchild is born, and we’re all smiles. We win a free vacation, and we’re ecstatic! The boss gives a big raise just when we need the extra money, and we’re elated. But the euphoria is only temporary. Inevitably something changes and takes our happiness with it. The baby gets sick; our vacation gets rained on; our job is eliminated by a corporate merger. The positive feeling is fleeting. At best we’re left feeling empty, and at worst, even angry.
So how do we get our happiness back when the situation changes? We can’t wish happiness back. We can’t chase it. Trying harder to regain it only produces frustration. If circumstances alone make us happy, then our situation has to change for us to be happy again. Yet that’s precisely the reason we’re unhappy. We don’t, and never will, have control over the things that make for “don’t worry, be happy.”
Happiness is circumstantial and elusive, but joy is not circumstantial. We can have joy even when we’re not happy. Some may hear Christians talking about joy and think that joy is just a religious word for happiness. But joy differs from happiness. If the situation is right, anyone can experience happiness. Even people who don’t know God or who curse God can be happy. But they don’t have joy, for that blessing in life has a totally different source.
According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit produces joy. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, emphasis added). Isn’t it interesting that joy is mentioned immediately after love? Obviously God doesn’t want us to live depressed, cranky, and bitter lives. He knows that happiness is fleeting, so through the Spirit, he gives us supernatural joy that transcends our circumstances. Joy is a beautiful gift that accompanies salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a gift imparted by the Holy Spirit to our innermost being.
If joy is a gift, we should expect to see more of it in the church, yet we’re often surprised when we do. However, when we recognize that true joy doesn’t come from our circumstances but rather from God, we begin to see joy as a blessing for everyday life. And that joy from the Spirit will make us distinctive to the culture around us.
-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted from Spirit Rising)